MY LIFE ITSELF IS EVANGELISM
Many believers consider evangelism to a burdensome and difficult task. They believe that evangelism is exclusive to pastors and missionaries, and for those who are prepared and have the leisure to do so. People make excuses that they are not ready, or they do not have enough time. These misconceptions stem from a disconnect between our lives and evangelism, resulting in conflicts in our understanding of this mission God gave us. Evangelism, ultimately, can be done by many different people in many different ways. Before we challenge towards the Paul’s evangelism, we need to first understand that evangelism begins within ourselves. Our life itself can evangelize to the people around us.
1. My life itself is evangelism
Although we may live in the world, we are not of the world. We may be citizens of a nation on a document, but our true citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20). Just as we live by the ways of the United States, we live by the ways of heaven. God, more specifically, instructs us to “conduct [ourselves] in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” no matter the situation (Phil 1:27). Realistically, this command means to live serving Christ as our Lord and being completely satisfied with only Christ. This lifestyle that enjoys true joy and peace with God has no choice but to be noticed by the people around us. Joseph, Daniel and members of the Antioch church are perfect examples of those whose lives evangelized by themselves.
Joseph, while working as a slave in Potiphar’s home, enjoyed God being with him and God blessed his work. As a result, Potiphar “saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did” so he promoted Joseph as head of the household (Gen 39:3). Later, after Joseph interpreted his dream, Pharaoh commended Joseph saying “can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” (Gen 41:38) and establishes him as governor of Egypt. Joseph, who held on to the covenantal dream from his youth, enjoyed the blessing of Immanuel and the filling of the Holy spirit to the point where the nonbelieving general and king of Egypt took notice of him, and the presence of God in his life.
After Daniel was unfairly framed and thrown into the lion’s den for the night, King Darius called out for his, asking, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” (Dan 6:20). King Darius’ question reveals not only his faith in God, but also his observation of Daniel’s steadfast servitude and devotion towards God. When Daniel replied back, King Darius witnessed the almighty power of God, who had protected Daniel from the lions.
As the members of Antioch church shared the gospel with both Jews and Greeks, “The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:21). When Barnabas arrived to Antioch, he “saw what the grace of God had done” within the church.
Joseph, Daniel and the congregation of the Antioch church, in their own lifestyles, released the fragrance of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14-15) and turning people’s attention not to themselves but to the working of God in their lives. In that same way, when we enjoy the blessing of Immanuel and filling of the Holy Spirit like Joseph, serve Christ as our Lord like Daniel, and enjoy the grace of God like the members of the Antioch church, we can release the fragrance of Christ in our lives, drawing people to us. Our lifestyles of true peace and joy testify Christ, serving as letters of the gospel to those willing to hear the good news.
2. My field is the evangelism field.
Once you understand that your life itself can evangelize, the people in your life, the school or workplace you are in become your evangelism field. Not only must we acknowledge the evangelism field God entrusted to us, but we need to accurately see its spiritual flow and state.
Paul, in the scripture reading, looked past the advanced society and culture of Athens, and saw the spiritual darkness of idolatry and philosophy. Athens, at the time, was filled with various temples dedicated to the myriad of gods they believed in, and the culture was steeped in idol worship. The culture of Athens was also centered in philosophy and debates of new ideas regarding the meaning of life.
Greatly distressed by what he saw, Paul proclaimed to the people the risen Christ. When he was brought to the meeting of Aeropagus, Paul appealed to the citizens of Athens, first commending their religiousness and dedication (Acts 17:22). He then explains to them that the “gods” they are religiously worshipping is not many but the one and only God, who created the earth and gave man life. He is the being through which “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 11:28). God, therefore, does not “live in temples built by human hands” nor is a divine being “like gold or silver or stone – an image made by human design and skill” (Acts 17:24,29). Paul then warns them that although God had overlooked their sin in the past, which was done in ignorance, God now commands all people to repent, because he has set a day of judgement for all men (Acts 11:30-31). And as evidence, he resurrected from the dead Jesus, who had died on the cross to complete the work of the Christ.
Upon hearing about Jesus’ resurrection, the people reacted in three different ways. Some looked down at and criticized Paul, while others wanted to hear more. Among them were even people who believed in Paul’s message and were saved. Ultimately, however, Paul’s work in Athens doesn’t blossom the way it did in Philippi and Thessalonica, where disciples and churches had been raised. Evangelism, ultimately, is a spiritual battle against darkness and Athens was a city that was especially covered in darkness. For people’s hearts to open the gospel, we must break down the forces of darkness that are working in them first, which is why we must always pray for and be prepared to share the gospel to the people in our lives.
Ultimately, God’s will and desire is for the word movement, both in ourselves and within the people around us. Even if you forget everything else, just remember: my life itself is evangelism and my field is my evangelism field.